We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

"The Corner" -- Review of Book Behind Emmy-Winning Program

by Paul H. Rosenberg Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2000 at 5:27 PM

There’s a strange mirroring between the corner addicts and ourselves. Our addiction to the war on drugs mirrors their drug addiction -- we spend more and more to get less and less, we know it’s not working, it’s destructive, yet we can’t find the strength to quit, it’s unthinkable to quit.

The Corner The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighborhood, is co-author David Simon's follow-up to his prize-winning book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Co-author Edward Burns was a 20-year man who served in the Baltimore homicide unit Simon wrote about, and is now a schoolteacher. Like Homicide before it, The Corner derives enormous power by telling its story faithfully and carefully, avoiding the glitzy clich and cheap adrenaline rush that only get in the way of telling the truth.

The inhabitants of this world are street dealers and their organizations, local addicts who survive on a wide range of hustles, occasional stick-up men, a small remnant of law-abiding citizens and neighborhood children who seem destined to end up on the corner now matter how innocent they originally are. The echoes of Dickens are unmistakable, haunted by the darker sensibility of Baltimore's own most famous addict, Edgar Allen Poe.

At the heart of The Corner is the intersection of two families -- the hardworking McCulloughs and hard-partying Boyds -- and the neighborhood savior, Ella Thompson, who runs a recreation center, providing the sole source of stability for most children and teenagers in the neighborhood around Fayette Street and Fulton Avenue. Gary McCullough was a workaholic, holding down 2 or 3 jobs at a time (plus managing his own stock portfolio), who worked his way up to owning his own construction company plus several neighborhood rowhouses. He loved discussing mysticism, cosmology and metaphysics. Fran Boyd was his wife--always into partying, she got hooked on coke after her sister died, which eventually broke up their marriage. Finally, to Fran's sorrow and surprise, that breakup lead to Gary taking up heroin and cocaine and losing everything he had. Their eldest don, DeAndre (aged 15) runs with a bunch of kids playing at being a gang.

Over the course of a year, we watch people run hustles, from the routine to the elaborate, form partnerships and double-cross each other, get away with countless crimes and get busted--sometimes for bogus charges--make endless excuses, occasionally try to quit and--surprisingly--even succeed with very little going for them. Though absorbed in petty crime, they're not really evil -- just driven by uncontrollable need, doing what they have to. "To exist in that environment--to seek or sell dope and coke--and at the same time to carry the burden of an outside morality is to invite abuse and failure," the authors explain. "Make no mistake: No one likes to play under the rules, no one on Fayette Street respects them or regards them as fair or worthy or in any way justified. Even the lowest needle freak knows guilt at the instant he's doing dirt, but knowing it changes nothing."

The Corner follows events day-by-day, with enough backstory to make sense of things as they unfold. But inevitably, the authors disclose a broader backstory -- that of Gary's father, his hardworking rise to homeownership and sending his children to college; of the drug trade going back to the 1960s and 70s, when it was a marginal, covet affair, governed by strict rules, bounded by shame, and the dramatic change with the arrival of cocaine; of the neighborhood itself, including the role played by the 1968 riots, after the murder of Martin Luther King, and the role of real estate agents who promoted white flight, buying cheap from fleeing white families, selling dear to arriving blacks.

We also get some wide-angle shots framing the painful close-ups at the heart of The Corner; such as the authors explaining, "not only is the street-level drug arrest not a solution, it's actually part of the problem." Government resources, credibility and effectiveness have all been sacrificed, they argue. Arrest rates for shootings, armed robbery, rape, burglary -- all felonies except murder -- have fallen, as the investigative departments have been gutted to focus on street-level drug-dealing.

Thus, it's not just the addicts, everyone connected with drugs and the drug war is a prisoner of futility. The good cops are existential heros -- maintaining a code of duty and conduct with no hope whatsoever it will make a damn bit of difference. The bad cops, overhwhelmed by the hopelessness of their task, no longer know or care how to do real policework -- drug busts are so easy to make, plus it hardly matters if you do it right or not, you know the people you're arresting are guilty of something -- so what if it's not the crime you've arrested them for? Under these conditions, good men can become bad cops, just as good men can become petty criminals and lifelong addicts.

Gradually two sobering ideas take shape: first that the inner city and the war on drugs are the "next Vietnam" we've spent so much money to avoid overseas -- once again we've found ourselves in a quagmire not knowing how we got there. Second, that there's a strange mirroring between the corner addicts and ourselves. Our disconnection from them mirrors their disconnection from the wider world. Our addiction to the war on drugs mirrors their drug addiction -- we spend more and more to get less and less, we know it's not working, it's destructive, yet we can't find the strength to quit, it's unthinkable to quit.

The Corner isn't an easy book to read -- gripping, compelling, necessary, yes -- but devoid of answers, full of questions, it's a hard book about telling the truth. Addicts only changes by facing the truth. The same is true for the nations.

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Great Book Great Show Tolstoy1 Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2000 at 6:36 PM

Local News

Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018? J01 12:18AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 4:03AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 3:58AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News


Judge Delays Ruling on Puerto Rico Debt Deal White House Opposes Island's Food Assistance J18 6:04PM



Paraphysique de proxémie guerrière J18 7:59AM


FARCELONA 8.17.2017 J17 3:23PM



PR Debt Cancel, Judge Reviews Cofina Debt J16 9:04PM

Réseautage, fragmentation du capital J16 4:20PM

Paraphysique de manipulation mentale et sociale J15 9:51AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

Markets as a Fetish, Globalization, and Dissent Management J14 1:03PM

State Debts - The Primal German Fear J13 5:09PM

Sans liberté, sans égalité, sans fraternité J13 8:09AM

From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump - and Beyond J12 9:22PM

Copper Cures Cancer J11 1:42PM

Steven Taylor, Investor who Evicts J11 9:24AM

Du sectarisme, des sectes, des clans J11 8:10AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen J10 6:34PM

Patrick Kilpatrick discusses and signs Dying for Living J09 11:51PM

SexActs vs Sexuality USA 2018 Invitations to Power Marriages without Affection J09 8:36PM

Changer de mentalité, changer de société J09 9:17AM

Teacher Strike? Time for Labor Studies J09 6:26AM

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update J08 10:12PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy